Freefolk. Heroes. Friends. It has been a few weeks since the incident and in this time Vallah has recovered from the dreadful memory ritual. With his mind clear and his memories restored, he returned to deliver us his story, and I have transcribed it here so that you may all read it at your leisure. -Kyle Rumblend, Brotherhood Analyst & Published Author.
The Mists of the Beginning
Contemplate Infinity. Its vastness is without horizon, without limitation.
Now imagine seven such Infinities, with intellects as vast as their beings, coming to this reality from the dreaming dusts of another. Whether they fled from a ruined realm or they ascended from their origins, we may never truly know — that tale is beyond us.
However, this story begins with their arrival.
Battle, Chaos, Creation, Fate, Inquisition, Knowledge and Tranquility
For a fact, we know that the Gods can make and create many, many things. But foremost among them is War. Indeed, they made war amongst themselves, formented by their own differences, their own desires and their own trivialities.
Most known and the greatest of all their wars was the one they fought against this reality — that of Wyrm, the all-mother.
The Prime Conflict
This battle raged for several eternities and in its wake was made the Aether, the Underworld and the Overworld, wrought from the fury of their conflict and the pieces that was broken off from them. In a moment of desperation and recklessness, the Daemon were forged by the Gods as weapons, wrought of their wrath and their hatred, just as the Aethereals were born as instruments of Wyrm.
By their incredible strength and that of the Daemon, the Gods were victorious, though the cost in doing so was immeasurable. In their victory, Wyrm — this reality — was sundered and greatest portion became a vast expanse of earth, water and life.
The spirits told me long ago that the next five greatest portions became five powerful entities — the Totems. These entities possessed an immense amount of their parent’s knowledge and their power. You may know them as Sun and Moon, Earth and Storm, and inevitable Winter — but these beings were of such greatness that the Gods could not easily defeat them — though even they could not match the Gods as they were.
Soon afterward, the Seven invaders made peace.
Perhaps they feared what a new conflict would bring. They had been certainly been wounded, their blood and entrails were scattered across existence as Overworld, Underworld and the Aethyric Domains. Similarly, they had sacrificed much to create the Daemons and to jail those Daemons and Aethereals they could not destroy. They sent the Daemonic armies into the Underworld to seek out what remained of Wyrm’s Aethereals and any renegade Totems beyond the five that dared to defy them.
Perhaps they felt guilt — having seen what their carnage had wrought to them and to their surroundings. Surely, this carnage and chaos would be enough to turn the minds of the most hardened of killers and soldiers.
Personally, I imagine that some of them simply needed some time to prepare for a new war.
A Fleeting Peace
Working with the remnants of their enemy and using said remnants, they wrought a new shape from Wyrm’s body — Midworld.
The Gods made creatures and Mortals to populate it. The Dwarves were made from draconic earth and divine flame to assist in the “terraformation” of Midworld. The Archons were made of divine light and holy will to serve the Gods in ordering the rest of the cosmos.
Trolls and Gnomes were wrought in their own way by Wyrm herself. The Trolls were birthed of the flesh of Wyrm while the Gnomes coalesced from her dreams. Their creation was spontaneous rather than intended, but many served the Totems nonetheless.
These twelve entities worked together to create, but they worked just as much to destroy and to war. Sometimes the Gods warred against the Totems, through their Mortals. Other times, the Gods and Totems allied together to fight amongst themselves.
These battles were many and beyond count. They were holy and unholy, righteous and vicious. Some Gods sought only tranquility and creation. Others brought death and chaos with them.
As it is with all war, the mortals suffered the most. Not just in the mustering and spending of armies, but with the world shaking calamities and supernatural disasters that marked such divine battles.
The Death of the First Kingdom
Forgotten, forsaken and hungering for conquest, the Daemon returned and utter desolation was what followed. Thus was the fate of the First Kingdom of Dwarves, who labored to shape Midworld at the Gods’ behest and was destroyed by the greatest of their weapons. So too were the peoples of the Trolls and the Gnomes ravaged. They survived only through fleeing in free moving tribes.
It was too late for the Dwarves and the others, but the Gods and the Totems fell upon the Daemons with a vengeance. Alongside their masters were the Archons, the Dragon broods, the Aethereals and the Elementals. The battles cast a deadly pall and a shape unto Midworld, rendering some places so unhallowed with death and violence that they forever remained so.
It is known to us that the Daemon were stopped by a powerful spell cast by the Gods and the Totems — the Sundering Seal. This cast the Demons into the Vaults of the Underworld, joining the others that the Gods and the Totems had chosen to imprison instead of destroy.
What is not widely known is that the Sundering Seal also separated Midworld from the Underworld AND the Overworld. Only the Demonic Gates and the Holy Mountains connected Midworld to the other two planes of existence. Similarly, the World-Locks ensured that Midworld and the Aether would remain apart — they were both locks and surgeons in that regard, which was absolutely necessary when considering the ephemeral and intangible nature of the Aether.
I imagine that the Gods and the Totems now feared the Daemons more than anything. But they may have also conspired to store them to be used later — against each other or against some new foe.
In the Underworld, their natures changed and their war-like visages seethed until there was nothing but hatred in their hearts and in their propagated kin. The Daemon were forged to fight Wyrm and her minions, but they were also forged with great haste and with great power. They would reproduce, they would evolve and they would even worm their way through the Seals to invade Midworld and wreak devastation. They also sowed the seeds of divine discontent among those Mortals that they encountered, but their words fell on deaf ears… for now.
The Era of Second Kingdoms
As we know, the Underworld was a hellish chaos but the Overworld was a lofty realm of thought and of order. And in the Overworld, dwelt the Archons — they had long been servitors of the Gods, but they were bid to stay in Midworld to guard against Demonic presence.
The Daemon could not be allowed to take the Holy Mountains and so the Archons did descend and don veils of flesh over their spirit and become what we now call “Elves”. They made glorious war to eradicate the Daemon that had slipped past the Sundering Seals. They reinforced the Gates so that the Daemon needed a different means of ingress.
And when they were done, they murdered one another.
Solarian’s vision of purity would not be borne by Verdas nor Shaedis. So he made war upon them both and obliterated their people and their lands so that they would never return to them. In her final act, Shaedis cast a spell that left her Empire in an eternal darkness where time itself would move in strange patterns. Verdas was not so fortunate to even have a legacy — their people and their civilization would have nothing left but what few remained as free tribes.
The Third Kingdom rises
It was the Human Race, my people, that was the last ever made by the Gods.
Flame and Earth were used to build the Dwarves.
Light and Order were used to forge the Archons.
Flesh and Dream maketh Troll and Gnome.
But the Race of Humans were treasured by the Gods. We were to be their greatest work and they burned within us the confidence to take over the world and the Ingenuity to make it happen.
In time, we brought about the greatest age yet seen. We made peace and alliance between the Races of Midworld, turning tribes and villages into cities and empires. From wilderness and ruin, we forged Dominion and Civilization in a rate never seen. Through ingenuity and confidence, we improved what the Gods had wrought.
We were not so hide-bound as the Dwarves and the Elves, who followed the Law and were punished for it. We were not so accursed by their incidental creation and their flesh as the Trolls and the Gnomes, who were born of Wyrm’s flesh and her dreams. We discovered new horizons with artifice. And new Arcana was discovered from our adventurous and willful natures.
Our rise was meteoric, forming tribes and uniting them under singular banners within only a few generations. Several powerful nations and Kingdoms arose from the flames and the ashes of divinely inspired war and innovation.
Of course, in our quest to seek things that were greater and more, we made pacts with Demons and other creatures without name or form. There were more Daemon summonings than in past eras, although these were quickly snuffed out by Godly armies.
Distracted by their squabbles and their creations, the Gods did not see what would come next. How could they when one of them was working against them the entire time?
Secundus Julos Saturnius was the High Priest, the Krih-Valathar, of the Divine Imperium and second only to the Divine Emperor in rank and rulership. His people worshiped all the divinities and drew power from them all. He called six great leaders, the Kings of their people, to his cause.
- Woden Krom –The Thane of Thanes, The Breaker of Giants and the leader of the western Tribes.
- Wyrd-Voll-Notra the Builder– The Grand Architect of the Wyrdic Kingdom and creator of the Wyrdic Cipher and Wyrd-Spiel. She was its finest mind and its greatest ruler
- Vishma Phalaktra — Shadow-Speaker for the Yssyr Cabal-Kingdom and the greatest of their Crescent Council
- Ishri Al-Shair — Sorcerer-King of Al-Shair, the Life-Shaper and Arch-Binder
- Osirath-Amun — King-Priest of the Death God, the Killer of Ten Thousand, the End-Seer.
- And of course, myself — Tazal Vallah — the All-Shaman of the Cuatl’s Totemic Circle.
Secundus sought us out and met with us — he called us the greatest heroes of this age, the third Kingdom. Individually, we earned our place as the heads of our Kingdoms and our Nations. Krom himself was responsible of culling Ymir’s giants so that they only numbered a few dozen rather than a few hundred.
He told us of a magic so powerful, so lethal, that it would do what even the demons could not: we would reach the Overworld as living beings and confront the Gods themselves, without their Masks and without their Aspects. He claimed that another apocalypse was forthcoming, the Demons would once again cover the land and obliterate all that we worked for and everyone we loved.
I’m sure he told each of us a different story and I’m sure we all believed him or agreed to conspire with him. How he managed to distract the Gods is a mystery, but it was with little wonder that our peoples began to war with one another or that Demons began to seep through the various Gates that were made to keep them from Midworld.
It was years in preparation and a decade had passed before our travels and our trials were complete. We had conspired with Demons, communed with Totems and even colluded with shadowy entities beyond our world.
But in the end, it was done and we were successful.
In the wake of the “Godsfall”, the Divine Emperor was dead. The Holy Mountains were broken. Tor-Valathar, the Pinnacle and Greatest of the Mountains, which we had reformed into a tower of black stone, shattered beneath us.
I do not deny my part in this. I had little belief in the gods — my people were beloved of the Totems and the spirits and the elements — their enmity with the divine guided their Deicidal counsel to me.
By the time second thoughts had seeded and found ground within me, the arrow had already been loosed from its bow.
It was madness and we were the cause. We killed the Gods. We slew Infinity and when six of us awoke, the world was in shambles and awash with demonkind. Osirath-Amun was nowhere to be found.
Heroes and Tyrants
We were made mad with our actions. A mortal is finite. A god is not. And much of their shattered essence landed across Midworld, the Aether and all other realms. Some Totemic Aspects became demi-divinity, as did certain Demons. The memories of the Gods, in their various masks and aspects, echoed in Overworld as well — and they persisted in these forms as phantoms of their truths and their lies. You will know them as the Maker, Woden or even The Seven United.
We made the world aright again. The Demons were cast aside and the world viewed us as heroes for a time. You have heard of us in myths and in stories, I’m sure, though our names are different from what they were.
And then we turned upon each other, for the call of singular rulership was stronger than any of us.
I… was not myself. Perhaps, I was not as strong as Secundus had proclaimed or perhaps my second thoughts had given birth to a second self. But I ravaged the land and its people as an endless tempest.
And we were all changed by our actions. Vishma lost themselves and subsumed the entire Crescent Council and almost all of their people into their Tenebrous form.
Ishri bound demons and people with her magic to serve as engines for her conquest. She became a Demon herself when she slew and killed all but a dozen of the Demon Lords in the Underworld, especially the Demon Lord known as Portia.
Woden was as hungry for battle and conquest as he ever was and death was nothing to him and his unliving legions. The Godsfall had changed him from a vital, barbarous warrior-king into a restless unkillable wraith — I suspect that the ritual actually slew him instantly, but allowed his spirit to persist within his corpse and become imbued. He called himself the Lichtor-Kar-Vorn — the War-Lich. So powerful was the death inflicted upon him that those who were attuned to Woden were slain… and rose again, some into Blood Lords or Arch Liches.
Wyrd was different however…as was Secundus. I am uncertain as to why, but they were no less dedicated to Rulership and Conquest as the others. Wyrd had converted her people, whether they decided or not, into Golemic servants — a vast army without need for food or rest or solace. She remained the Grand Architect, of course, the Fang-Zhara, of her new augmented people.
Secundus was far more subtle but no less potent, he enthralled the remaining heroes of the world to his side and sent them battle against his Immortal brethren. Ambitious and duplicitous to the last, he calls himself Primus.
More often than not, Morrath…no, I was an ally to him. I saw his evil, but my rage was as boundless as an ocean and the shamans at my side shared it with me. My people even chose to take on the forms of beast spirits to battle our Immortal enemies.
Generations would pass while we turned civilization and progress into ruin. We turned citizens and freefolk into refugees and fugitives… or thralls and fodder.
The spirits told me that the World-Locks were broken and damaged by the impact of the Godsfall. Now they require mortal hosts to keep them, even while they corrupt said host with elemental power and malice. As Aethyric constructs, once they were intelligent but without will, but they had been unleashed and they soon influenced any soul that would dare attempt to control them.
The Totems themselves drew away from me — even while they were maddened by the shards of divinity that pierced them from the Godsfall, they feared me for what I had become.
Emperor Solarian of the Sun Elves did not survive the Godsfall. His successor and the remaining Sun Elves retreated from the world, hiding their Kingdom from our eyes — we were too busy butchering each other to notice their flight.
Centuries passed and we only stopped killing each other because someone stronger had arrived. Osirath-Amun had returned from oblivion and brought it with him. When we saw him, we knew him for who he was instantly and we knew him also for what he became: Nihilus.
Though it aided us little, our divine senses told us what we needed to know. The God of Fate saw the fall of the Gods. Indeed, she even abetted in their demise, subtly allowing Secundus the necessary ritual to do so and shielding our actions from her brethren.
But Nihilus had come to finish the job of his God and we found our own immortality to be nothing against him. Wherever he went, death and oblivion followed. Our greatest servants could not survive him… but neither could the lowliest of mortals. He was as apathetic and as merciless as a winter storm and where he walked, Death followed.
We banded together, with Tenebrous, Lector and Portia doing their best to distract and confuse him. Myself, Primus and Fang-zhara constructed and performed a ritual that would do the undoable.
Nihilus could not be destroyed while any thought of him existed. Unlike Lector, who re-used and dominated the flesh and spirits of the dead, Nihilus and his Deathless minions were nothingness made animate.
Our spell would be fueled by the corpses of the Holy Mountains and what divine powers we had. We would seal away much of our power in doing so in a risky gambit. However, the alternative was the absolute destruction of everyone in Midworld.
All of us, in our own way, wanted to reign. Even Morrath was an engine of destruction that desired a return to a more primal era of the world.
Nihilus only sought oblivion.
In the face of this greatest evil, we allied together and succeeded. We wiped our memories clean of him. We wiped the world clean of him. We sacrificed much of our power as well, sealing them so that their energies can maintain the spell in perpetuity.
Of course, we had known that we would turn upon each other as soon as Nihilus was gone.
But what was not expected was a new strategy… and an uprising. Portia was the first to fall, though it took the entirety of her Kingdom do so.
Fang-zhara was next — tricked by Primus into sealing herself. Her powers were separated into several dozen different puzzle boxes. Guardians were put in place to ensure her containment.
Lector was enchained and entombed above a subterranean Duskwell that would suppress his endless hunger for souls and conquest.
Tenebrous was a difficult prey, but Primus and I worked together with hundreds of Elementals to put most of them behind a Tomb. I knew that the sealing was imperfect, especially with Tenebrous’ nature, but what little of them roamed the world would be rendered largely ineffectual by the Golden and the Silver Ritual.
I would have been the last. I sought to quiet my form and entomb myself forever. But Primus struck first — his minions infiltrating my Druids and setting me upon them.
His victory would be short, however, as my own disciples and allies enacted my plans. The Verdant Vale, along with three powerful elemental Dragons, sealed him away.
And then the world moved on while we slumbered fitfully. The Verdant Vale even forgot their purpose, while their ranks were slowly being infected by the rage within me.
But Fate would have other plans. Events and happenings have unfolded according to prophecy.
Primus was awakened by a lust for Gold and Glory. I was awakened from my slumber shortly thereafter. One by one, my monstrous brethren have been let loose into the world. Those that had the power to seal the immortals away have sacrificed themselves to do so or have passed from this world.
Now we must stand against this ancient horror — the Cold, Dark Wind of the End — and do what the Gods themselves could not do.
An end to war and end to Pain, these will come in Seventh’s Reign.